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Retiring This Year? 3 Financial Moves to Check Off Your List

By Maurie Backman – Oct 14, 2021 at 8:01AM

Key Points

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You may want to wrap up your career by the end of 2021, but be sure to tackle these items first.

Will 2021 be the year you retire? With an ongoing pandemic wreaking havoc, you may be ready to bring your career to a close.

But retirement is a big decision, and one you shouldn't jump into. If you're thinking of retiring within the next few months, be sure to make these key moves first.

Person staring at laptop screen.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Assess your savings

Ideally, you'll be heading toward retirement with a decent pile of money socked away in either an IRA, a 401(k) plan, or both. But how much income will that actually translate to?

It's easy to look at a $1 million IRA balance and think, "Wow, that's a lot of money." But remember, that pile of cash needs to last for several decades. And so on a yearly basis, it may not provide as much income as you think it might.

Say you decide to withdraw from your savings at a rate of 4%, which is what some financial experts recommend. With a $1 million nest egg, that leaves you with $40,000 in annual income.

That may be more than enough for you, especially when combined with monthly paychecks from Social Security. But if you don't like the sound of that, then you might consider working a bit longer and boosting your nest egg.

2. Get an estimate of your monthly Social Security benefit

Just as it's important to know how much income to expect from your retirement savings, so too is it essential that you know what to anticipate from Social Security. And the good news is that if you're on the cusp of retirement, estimating your monthly benefit is easy.

All you need to do is look at your annual earnings statement, which comes in the mail once you're 60 or older. You can also access that statement via the Social Security Administration's website.

Of course, if you're not happy with your monthly benefit, you can try delaying your Social Security filing. Holding off on claiming your benefits could boost them substantially. But doing so may require you to work longer, so that's something to figure out before making your retirement official.

3. Figure out what you'll do with your time

Many people look forward to retirement only to realize that working is actually a great way to occupy their days. It's important to come up with a plan for how you'll spend your time once you no longer have a job to report to, because if you don't, a couple of things might happen.

First, you might spend down your savings too quickly in an effort to stay occupied. Secondly, your mental health might start to suffer if you find yourself bored and restless day in, day out.

There are plenty of ways to fill up your days once you're retired, so you'll need to consider your hobbies and finances to figure out what's reasonable. You may love to travel, for example. But if you can only swing a couple of trips a year, you'll need other activities to pursue. And if you come to the realization that it'll take more money than you've currently saved to make your retirement dreams a reality, then that could prompt you to extend your career.

Plan carefully

What you don't want to do is retire too soon and regret that decision after the fact. It may be the case that retiring this year is a great move that'll work out well for you. But make sure to check these boxes off your list before making that call.

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